Up In Smoke

The late Sam Arnold, patriarch of the Fort Restaurant, started the annual Farolito Lighting tradition many years ago, and it's never gone away, perhaps because its natural simplicity reminds us of the good side of the holidays. There's a little noshing on cookies and cocoa in the outdoor courtyard, a little music and a ceremony honoring someone special to the Fort family and the region (this year, Colorado historian Tom Noel will be recognized), but the main event is the lighting itself, wherein participants write the name of a loved one, a message or an intention, tuck it into a pine cone and toss the cone on an open fire with a snap, crackle and pop. "You throw it into the fire, and all your wishes and intentions go up," explains spokeswoman Carolyn Doran. "It's nice, and it's short."

Tonight's entertainment includes a choir and musicians on the balcony, as well as an unexpected pair of tuba players on the roof. "The Christmas carols selected were all songs sung during the 1833-to-1849 time period at Bent's Old Fort [the real fort in southeastern Colorado on which the Fort's architecture is based]," notes Doran. And interestingly enough, they're classics that we still sing today: "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," "Joy to the World," "O Come All Ye Faithful," "Silent Night."

Light your farolito tonight from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the Fort, 19192 Highway 8 in Morrison; admission is free, but you might want to splurge on a Wild West dinner while you're there. Visit www.thefort.com or call 303-697-4771.
Sun., Nov. 27, 4:30-6 p.m., 2011

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd